Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Secret's ears and other stuff

We dug out an old calf halter for Secret... it's probably twenty-five years old, but once Cliff got the rust off the metal part, it worked.  Although it's too big, it's the smallest one we have in our assortment.  It'll fit her just fine in a couple more weeks.  I have halters to fit her throughout her life.

I snapped a lead rope onto her halter and led her around the yard.  Often, a calf will balk and "sull up" as the old farmers say, when they feel somebody pulling on a halter they're wearing.  I've had many of them even just lie down and act like they were dying, rather than give to the rope.  Not Secret!  I gave her plenty of rope and let her frolic and play around me, but when I pulled her toward me, she came right on... until I began putting her back in the barn!  She didn't want to go in there; she was enjoying her freedom.  I'll bring her out again after she's had her evening bottle.

Also, while I was leading her around, I took her to the pasture and introduced her to the horses.  I wish they could all get along, but I'm afraid the horses will always want to chase her.  Blue was the most hateful one toward her.  The two ladies, Libby and Sassy, seemed to want to get to know her better.  Yes, I know: you can drive all over the countryside and see horses and cows apparently living in harmony together.   But we've always had problems mixing the two, and the cows end up being kicked, chased, and bitten.

You can see how stubby her ears are going to be; where that white line is, that's how long they'll be.  I've seen calves with even less ears than that.  It happens as a result of a calf being born in frigid temperatures when there's nobody around to get it dried off.  Cattle can stand cold temperatures just fine, once they're dry.  It's the being wet that freezes ears and tails.

I am, by the way, going to let Secret keep her horns; when I had several Jerseys I dehorned them, so they wouldn't fight and hurt one another.  Since she (and perhaps some of her offspring) will be the only cattle here, they get to have horns.  I'm sure some of you city folks thought only bulls have horns, right?  I always have to laugh when somebody asks me about that.  You can enjoy watching my calf sprout horns as she grows.

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More questions?

Warning:  If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read the answer to the last question (the one involving Sadie).

Will the frozen parts of her ears just fall or break off by themselves?
The frozen parts more or less wither, curl up, and shrink to nothing.  I am really hoping her tail didn't freeze too, because a cow needs her tail to use as a fly-swatter.  As far as I can tell, it's fine. 

"I have always felt that way about horses too  that they are so lonely when left by themselves all day.   Cats & dogs I see differently because they seem to be around the owners more.  I hope she isn't too terribly lonely."
As one who has had several "only" horses (Blue was, for a long time), you may rest assured that an "only" horse can be quite happy.  They are much more people-friendly, because that's all they have, to interact with.  I've had "only" cows before, too.  They also are quite content (unless they're in heat of course).  If I got another calf as company for Secret, they couldn't live in the same pen anyhow, because bottle calves nurse one another and ruin their future udders that way. 

How does Sadie do with her? 
Actually, Monica and I had Sadie in the pen with us yesterday evening, and Sadie was unconcerned with the calf, because she was busy eating Secret's poop.  There is something about calf-poop from calves still on an all-milk diet that dogs consider a gourmet treat.  I know, dogs eat poop anyway, but this is totally different:  they'll devour new-born calf poop like it is steak!  Trouble is, there was so much hay mixed in with the yummy poop Sadie was eating that she came in the house and puked up the most disgusting pile of gunk you've EVER seen!  Thank goodness for Spot-Shot.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More answers to your questions

You have questions and comments?  I have answers!

I sure hope she keeps her ears like they are. 

I'm rather afraid she is going to lose about half of each ear.  More about that below.

I know nothing about cows or calves so your Secret
is interesting to me.  3 weeks seems so little/young. 
Yes, three weeks old is very young.  That's why a bottle calf must be watched so closely.

Won't she be lonely out there by herself & without her mother? 
She misses her mother horribly right now, just as a newly weaned puppy or kitten would.  Within a week, she will consider me her mother, since I'll be supplying her milk, and she'll be content.  Keeping one cow is no different than having only one dog, or one horse.  She'll adjust.  Right now she bawls every time she sees somebody, because she's used to nursing any time she likes.  She's on twice-a-day feedings, and thinks she's starving.  She'll get used to that, too.  And soon she'll be consuming lots of calf starter (grain) between her milk meals.

I consider everything that comes my way a learning experience.  I was looking forward to having a beautiful Jersey heifer to share with my readers.  It looks as though I will have a funny-looking Jersey heifer; but I will share her anyway. 

I'd be very upset, if I had been planning on showing this little Jersey; but I only wanted a pet.  I had Jersey cows for many years, and I've missed them ever since I got rid of the last one.  Secret is already well on her way to being a fine, friendly pet.  Have I mentioned that she is exceptionally smart, as cows go?  (You know how we doting mothers are.)

Will it bother her if she's funny-looking?  No, not a bit.  And any animal friends she might have through the years aren't going to notice, either.  Animals are way ahead of us humans that way... they don't care about race, creed, color, or appearance.

Any pain involved with her ears freezing is  already over, so she isn't hurting.

This simply reminds of how God accepts me, imperfections and all.  And loves me the way I am.  And so I will accept and love Secret, just as she is.

Secret today, in her pen in the barn.

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Secret report

In answer to questions in my comment section yesterday... yes, we have Secret here at home now. 

I used to raise baby calves, sometimes a dozen at a time, in "hutches".  I was going to have Cliff bring up one of the hutches, but he suggested we simply give this calf the run of the hay section of our barn for now.  It faces south, so the sun shines in.  It keeps wind and rain off her.  Until she gets so big that it gets messy in there, that's where she'll live.

Her former owner thinks she was born February 6, so she is three weeks old today.  That means she had a good start on her mom's milk.  Now she's on milk replacer, which is simply baby formula for calves. 

I had to straddle her, facing forward, for her first bottle... and force the nipple in her mouth.  That's because she only knows her mom's teat as a food source.  Once she got a taste of the milk replacer, though, she eagerly nursed.  She let go a couple times, and I'd have to put it back in her mouth.  Then she'd nurse like crazy, once again.  This morning, she found the nipple by herself, with no help or direction from me at all.  I'll have to watch closely for scours (diarrhea), since she's on different milk.

She's actually nibbling already at calf starter (a grain mix for baby calves) and hay.

When we got her home, Cliff and I noticed that her ears have been damaged by cold temperatures; we'll see what effect that has on her looks.  It won't harm her in any other way.

See how the edge of the ear on  your left curls under a bit?  She's definitely going to lose a little of the edge of that ear, which won't be too noticeable.  Now, see the line about halfway down the ear on the right?  Both ears have that line, and we think that may be damage from freezing also.  If those portions come off, she's going to be a pretty odd-looking animal.   I'd rather she kept her ears... but beauty is only skin deep.  I'll love her anyway.

When the temperatures are below 20 degrees or so, a wet, newborn calf needs to be dried off immediately, or its ears and tail can freeze totally off.   Maybe I should have named her "Frosty".

Nope, she's going to remain "Secret", and I think she's a wonderful Valentine present!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Fridge Magnets!

For this week's Photo Shoot, it's time to use your camera to reveal -- your refrigerator!

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off your refrigerator magnets. Because you know you have 'em.

I have lots of other fridge magnets, but I rotate them from time to time.

Your turn: Get that fridge in the camera frame and make those magnets famous. Post the picture up on your blog or Web site and then go to John's blog and leave a link!

Now, I've really GOT a Secret!

Meet Secret.  Three weeks old.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Our exciting (yeahrite) trip to the land of Oz

Cliff's brother, Donald, along with a friend who put up the money, bought a bunch of tractors that a farmer had retired.  Two of them actually ran; the rest were sitting in a fence row, unused.  One had a broken crankshaft; on one, the motor was "froze".  Don has all of them running now.  He and his friend intend to sell them and split the profits.  If he only sells the two 4020 John Deere tractors, it will give them back the money invested in ALL the tractors.  And the rest would be profit.

Cliff has obsessed about these silly tractors ever since Don got them to his place.  No, he doesn't want any of them; he just wanted to LOOK at them.  He's like that.

So today we spent four hours going to south Kansas, four hours visiting with Don and Mary, and four hours returning home.  Maybe now Cliff will be content.  He's visited tractor Mecca.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

a meme

I found this meme over at Mary's, and decided it looked like fun.  I won't tag anyone.  If you like it, then do it.

Name something you don't have but really want.  A new house.

Name something you have but don't want.  Mud.  Lots and lots of mud outside right now.  (But I'm thankful for the precipitation that caused it.)

2 favorite material possessions.  Do my horses count?  If not, I'll say  my computer and  my Gibson Dove guitar.

What is a relationship breaker for you?  Let me know you don't trust me.  That'll do it.

What is the best part of your relationship with your partner?  Ha, that's easy.  The way he outrageously spoils me and puts up with my slob-ism and my hair-shedding dog and my fence-destroying horses.  Oh yeah, and he really loves me, too.  I could go on, but it would bore you.

Describe what sadness is to you.  Watching somebody die a lingering death, and seeing them suffer.  Thinking about mothers losing their children in a war that continues to escalate.

Have you ever been in therapy?  No, I'd rather spend my money on horses and computers.  But I'm sure I'd benefit from it.  Anyone want to volunteer to pay for my therapist?  I have a pay pal account.

What is your favorite thing to do as a pick me up?  Ride Blue, or go on a road trip with Cliff on the motorcycle.

Who made you laugh last?  That would be the Pioneer Woman, with her daily blog entry.  (Unless you mean somebody "in the flesh" as opposed to on the Internet.  In that case, it would be my dog, Sadie.)


Friday, February 23, 2007

Riding a horse today, instead of a Honda

Just sharing some pictures of my day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Our second motorcycle trip of the year

It was somewhat cooler today, and my plans were to ride my horse; Cliff, however, wanted to ride the motorcycle again, since the weather is supposed to get cooler and deteriorate after today.  It's OK, I can ride Blue when it's too cold for the Honda.  On weekdays I can't really do both in one day, because by the time we get home from cruising in time to fix lunch, eat it, and get Cliff off to work, it's almost time for the granddaughters to get off the school bus.  I might handle Libby a little this evening, though.

Cliff wanted to see how high-priced it would be to buy a new windshield for the motorcycle, since ours is so scratched.  So we headed to Hub.  The owner of the place assured us that the scratch-remover would fix things just fine.  Cliff will probably try it out tomorrow.

There are way too many pictures here, but my son likes to identify places on his old stomping-grounds.  So I took plenty.  Don't feel obligated to look at every one.  Or any of them, for that matter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

First motorcycle ride of the year

When we got back from our morning walk, the temperature was 45 degrees.  We decided to take advantage of the warmest day we've had lately and go for a motorcycle ride.  Cliff needed some new steel-toed work boots for his job, so we went to a huge western store a couple towns away from us... Kleinschmidts.  They have the biggest selection of cowboy boots, and other kinds too, that I've ever seen.  It isn't unusual to see a country music singer's tour buses parked outside this store:   it's right on the freeway, so they pull in many people who are just passing through.  They have lots of biker clothes (gloves, leathers, etc.) at the best prices around.

When Cliff went off looking for his Red Wing boots, I got sidelined in the motorcycle wear and, wouldn't you know it, I found just the biker boots I needed.  No more being the only rider in the group with sneakers on.

We did NOT need the pizza.  We've been eating out far to much lately, and it's going to have to stop.  Tomorrow. 

When we arrived back at home, it was 57 degrees.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Such Great Heights

Here's what John Scalzi has to say:  Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off a picture taken from a height. "A height" you can define as "Higher than I could shoot a picture by holding the camera over my head." Pictures from planes, from the observation decks of skyscrapers, from the roof of your house (although I don't want to put yourself in physical danger to take a picture) or wherever is up there in the air.

Alrighty then, John.  I recently used this on my Blogger journal for Wordless Wednesday, but I believe it fits here also.  Cliff took this picture of me perched at the edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, last year in Colorado.

You're up: Grab the camera and get tall, or look through your photos and find one of a certain altitude. Then post it on your blog or journal and go to Scalzi's journal to leave a link! And remember, just because it's called the "Monday Photo Shoot" doesn't mean you can't post later -- any time through Thursday noon should be fine.

Have you seen this girl? Amazing!

This first link is on You tube, so those of you with dialup might not want to try it.  Her name is Akiane Kramarik.

Here's her website:

I see she's been on Oprah and CNN news, so I'm probably the last to know about her; thanks to Cliff's cousin Edna for sending e-mail introducing me to Akiane.

If I were rich, I'd buy a couple prints of her paintings with horses.  They are breathtaking. 

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sadie sees Buddy

Sadie sees Buddy

This is how Sadie acts when there's a dog outside the window.

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I made Ree's cake

If only my chocolate-loving son were here, I'd mess up his current diet plans big time.  And if several people don't drop by to help me with this, I'll freeze what's left.  It has almost a pound of butter in the whole she-bang.  Oh yeah.  Cliff can only have a tiny little piece... or two.

Yes, there's a little bit gone in that far right-hand corner.  You can't turn your back on my dog, Sadie, for a minute.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sadie did tell me it was delicious.

Ree's recipe (which I've linked to before) is HERE.  Don't go there, please.  You'll drool on your keyboard just looking at the pictures.

I see by her comments that many people were already familiar with this recipe, and call it "Texas Sheet Cake"... with a variation or two.  Whether you are familiar with the recipe or not, the pictures are wonderful.

computers are so confusing

I have mentioned before that, during the recent cold snap, Cliff has used the notebook computer a few times.  I practically have to force him to light it off, but once he starts, he enjoys himself there in the comfort of his Lazy-Boy recliner.

Yesterday evening I talked him into trying a little surfing.  He was cruising around the Honda website trying to build himself a motorcycle when he began having problems ("The back arrow won't work," he said).  While I was trying to help him get to the bottom of this, our daughter, Rachel, came for a visit.

What we discovered was that every time Cliff would click on any link, a new browser was opening.  Which meant he had about 20 browsers open at one time, when I went to his side.

Let me mention here that if anything like this is going to happen, it will happen while Cliff is using the computer.  Which evokes a few remarks about "this %$*&@ thing" and discourages him from messing with it again.  That's a shame, because there's so much potential for enjoyment.

I use Firefox browser on both of our computers.  Usually if something isn't working on Firefox, I try it out on Internet Explorer.  That was my next step.

Same thing happened.  On Yesterday's Tractors, a website Cliff and I are very familiar with, every clicked link was opening a new browser.  Even with Internet Explorer.

Rachel said it had to be a computer setting of some sort, and called one of her tech guys where she works.  He recalled someone having a similar problem, but couldn't remember the cause, offhand.

We gave up and shut down the laptop.  Rachel, of course, with her typical bulldog tenacity, told me in no uncertain terms NOT to take it to any shop until she could talk to another guy at work.

I got up at my usual 4 AM this morning, sat down at my desktop, and began puzzling on the problem once again.  I remembered in the past how computer problems had occasionally gone away with a reboot. 

Sure enough, I got on the notebook computer and logged on to both mine and Cliff's accounts to try things out.  The browser  worked like it's supposed to, with no new browsers appearing.

The computer gremlins have struck again.


Friday, February 16, 2007

I met Secret today

That isn't the best picture I could have taken of her, and it doesn't really do her justice.  It was 18 degrees, so she was shivering with the cold and sorta "hunkered up".  But she's a doll.  In eight to ten days, good Lord willing, we'll pay the people and bring her home.

I appreciate my readers!

When you knowledgeable people comment on entries like the one below (where I mentioned how Cliff hates his saggy neck), I want you to know I do pay attention to your input.   And I do give consideration to your advice.  After reading only two comments on that entry, I have decided I will not encourage Cliff in any sort of unnecessary surgery.  

recipes that look good

I recently steered my readers to Ree's "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman".  I'm sure one or two of you got "hooked" on her wonderful writing. 

She's killing me with some of her recipes.  She takes pictures to illustrate each step of a recipe, and it leaves me drooling on my keyboard.  Trouble is, the stuff she's creating are pretty much off limits around here.

The Best Lasagna Ever, for instance.

And The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever.

Don't forget her Cinnamon Rolls.  I have a great roll recipe, but I'm tempted to try this one some time.

My grandson Arick will be here this weekend breaking a horse for some guy; maybe I should plan a meal at some point tomorrow and feed the family.  It's been awhile since I've done that.  I have a roast in the freezer I could cook, and I think I have all the ingredients for that sheet cake.

I'll think about it.

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Our last frigid day (hopefully)

I was going to do this week's grocery shopping up north, across the river, and kill two birds with one stone (see the Jersey calf while we were up there).  Cliff said, "We're not doing anything but sitting around the house anyway.  We'll make another trip to see the calf, maybe tomorrow." 

We had a couple of things to return to Kohl's, and he wanted some T-shirts from Penny's.  So we headed to Independence. 

Penny's had some great sales going on.  Name brand long-sleeve shirts (Haggar, for instance) for $5.  Lots of them.  Cliff really doesn't need any more winter shirts; but he loves corduroy pants, and we found some of those for $5 in his new 36-32 size.

Cliff's in bed right now.  When he gets up and sees this entry, he'll probably make me take picture #4 off here.  Why?  Because of his saggy neck, which really bothers him.  I've suggested to him that if it bothers him that much, he should get it fixed.  It can't cost that much for a plastic surgeon to perform such a simple operation, right?

Only thing is, I wonder how much the office visit would cost, to find out about the procedure.  Because I know insurance wouldn't pay for any of this.

Maybe I'll do some calling and see.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Your house, as seen by....

As seen by you:

As seen by your buyer:

As seen by your lender:

As seen by your appraiser:

As seen by your tax assessor:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

a few more cow details

It will be at least ten days until I get the calf; her owners need to keep her there until they make a trip out of state.  They'll have someone doing their milking for them, a person who isn't a very experienced milker.  So they want this baby to stay with its mom till then.  Less milking for their friend to do.

This is actually for the best, because it will give Secret a good start on her mother's milk.  Once I get her, I'll be feeding milk replacer.  It's fine, but nowhere as good as real cow's milk for a baby.  Also, she won't be so likely to get sick from being moved, with a couple of weeks age on her.  Besides, it's near zero outside right now.  Awfully cold to be hauling a calf around.

Amy said, " If you never breed the cow, then it won't give milk at all, right?"

Yep, that's right.  But the calves are half the fun.  For just one pet cow, we won't bother with a bull.  And I don't know of anyone around who does artificial insemination on cows these days.  So when the time is right (cows let you know every three weeks when the time is right) we will load her up and take her to visit Cliff's brother's Angus bull.  That is, unless we work a deal with her owners, because they usually keep a Jersey bull. 

About her name:  I was originally going to name her Valentine; I've had cows by that name before.  But I like "Secret", so that's what it will be.  Unless something else strikes my fancy before we bring her home.

It's just a trip across the river to where the baby lives.  I'm hoping to do my grocery-shopping in Richmond on Thursday or Friday, which will put us very close to her.   I'll try to arrange to see her and get some (better) pictures of my own.

I hope that answers the questions.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

about the calf

For most of my married life, I milked cows; mostly registered Jersey cows.  We didn't have enough cows, nor the right equipment, to be a real dairy.  I sold raw milk to anyone who wanted it, churned butter from the cream, and fed the extra milk to pigs, baby goats, orphan lambs, barn cats, and "bobby" calves bought from dairies.

We didn't go on vacations all those years, because a dairy cow must be milked twice a day.  And it's virtually impossible to find anyone who knows how to milk a cow, or wants to.

Over ten years ago, I sold my last milk cow, and started to enjoy my new-found freedom.  We could go anywhere we wanted, and stay overnight.  That part was great.

But I've never stopped missing my pretty Jersey cows.

There's a message board I read quite a bit, and last year some folks had a yearling Jersey heifer for sale; the people happened to live about thirty miles from me.  We went and looked at the heifer, but I really wanted a baby I could raise on the bottle myself, halter-break, and make it a pet.  So we came home empty-handed.  I liked the people, though.

A couple of days ago, I noticed these same folks had three cows calving at almost the same time, and they seemed to be having heifer calves.  All of them.  Surely these people could spare a baby heifer this year?

I contacted the lady, and she and her husband settled on a price.  I haven't been to see the calf myself; the picture on the previous entry is one the owners took.  But I'm pretty sure I'm buying it.  I won't be able to bring her home, though, for a couple of weeks.

So, will I be tied down to milking twice a day again?

First of all, this baby will be two years old before she has her first calf.  So that's two years of freedom, right there.  For you city folks, a cow doesn't give milk until it has a baby.  Just like humans and other mammals.   Then you milk them for ten months, stop milking to "dry them up" for two months, they have another baby and it starts all over again.

I'm not worried about the milk.  Even with the help of the granddaughters, we seldom use over a gallon of milk a week.  But I have a plan.

When Secret has her calf at age two, we won't take the calf away from her, as is the custom with dairy cows.  We'll let it stay with mom.  It won't be able to take all the milk at first, and I will have to relieve the cow of the excess milk for six to eight weeks.  I'll also have to watch the calf for signs of "scours" (diarrhea), which often happens with too much rich milk.

Judging from my past experience, the baby should be able to take all the milk its mother gives by the time it's two months old, without getting a diarrhea from too much milk.  From then on, if I want milk, I'll put the calf in the barn overnight and get some milk the next morning.  Then I'll turn mom and baby out together again.  As I said, though, I'm really not worried about milk for our purposes.  I just want a pretty Jersey cow on the place again.

I'll name the baby Secret.  She'll be my Valentine gift.  Cliff's got the XM radio; I get the baby Jersey.  The calf is going to cost more than the radio, just so you know.

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I think I have a Secret


I have learned not to boast of something until I have possession of it.  But things are looking good for a wonderful Valentine's Day gift, perhaps somewhat belated, since the weather is bad right now.


Sadie's happy

Another snow-day.  I think we got about four inches, but it drifted, so in some places, it's knee-deep.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Cliff's XM radio is set up in the shop

I sort of hated to see the XM radio moved to the shop, but after all, that's what we got it for.  All we need is some warmer weather, and Cliff will wear that thing out.  He figures he'll never listen to anything but two stations:  Classic Country and Willie's Place.

We're not going to attempt fixing it up in the car ourselves.  We'll save that job for our son, Jim, who is familiar with such things.  When that's done, we'll be able to take that little receiver out of the boom box, put it on a stand in the car, and we shall have music wherever we go.  The boom box also takes batteries.  So it can be taken as a portable unit if need be.

We're tickled with this purchase, and thanks to Jim, we got a real bargain.  I checked Circuit City and Best Buy, and then at the XM website.  None of them had our unit as cheap as the JJ Electronics Ebay store.  And they were so helpful when we were having difficulty getting our unit to work; within a half-hour of my e-mailing them with my problem, they e-mailed back with an answer.  I highly recommend them.


Sunday, February 11, 2007


Hey, I won't hold it against you if you get bored looking at these pictures and stop before you have looked at them all.  But lately there have been so few momentous things to photograph, I decided to let my readers meet some of Cliff's relatives.  Isn't that exciting?   There are some interesting animal pictures mixed in, so watch for those.

We really did have a good day.  Charlene's asthma was acting up, but she made it.  And she, Cliff and I had a good visit on the way to Versailles and back.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The wonders of the Internet

I've not been well acquainted with many of Cliff's relatives, other than his immediate family.  Except for Uncle George, who put me on a pedestal so high, you wouldn't believe it.  And he's been gone for many years.

Then came the Internet.  Cliff's brother's wife, Faye, sent me a forwarded e-mail a few years back, pointing out that Cliff's cousin, Edna, was listed there as one of the senders.

I never knew Edna well.  But I knew and loved her mom, Cliff's Aunt Margaret.  And I fondly recalled her brother, Junior, who played guitar and sang as well as anybody in Nashville.  And still does, I believe.

So I e-mailed her, way back then.

She replied, and we started a steady correspondence. 

A bond was formed.  I hope to see her tomorrow, if the weather doesn't get too bad.

Isn't the Internet wonderful?

(by the way, this has nothing to do with my secret)

I've got a secret

Yep.  And Valentine's Day is coming up.


We have radio!!!!!

I finally got hold of an XM radio tech who explained a couple of steps in activation that nobody else had bothered to tell me about.  Cliff is tickled to death:  lots of corny old songs with no commercials.

On another note, for the rest of you rednecks who get an income tax refund every year:  You can check on the status of your refund by going HERE on the IRS website.

I'm fully aware that financially responsible people try to have as small a refund as possible, or none at all.  "I'm not letting the government use MY money all year for nothing", they say.

Well, that wouldn't be me and Cliff.  Our income tax refund is as close as we'll ever come to winning the lottery.  Have a blast with our money, Uncle Sam.  Thanks for giving it back to us in a heap.

About our XM radio

Well, I corresponded with the people on Ebay who sold us the radio, and the guy knew exactly what we were doing wrong, said it happens all the time:  I didn't have the SkyFi2 seated properly in the boom box that came with it.  (It is guaranteed for a month, by the way.)

For those of you who don't know what satellite radio is,  you can check out the XM radio  website or read HERE for a general description.  You can even get a three-day trial of XM radio and listen on the Internet.

There is a monthly fee.  If it were just me, I would not waste the money.  But Cliff loves country music, the classic stuff.  His hearing gets worse all the time.  One ear is totally shot, the other one steadily grows weaker, even with his hearing aid.  I intend for him to hear his kind of music for as long as possible.  Besides, when he has noise going, he doesn't notice the tinnitus in his bad ear so much. 

This boom box has great volume!!!  Just what we had in mind.  Now to get the thing receiving properly.

So, now the radio makes noise.

However, it's pretty chaotic noise, because we're having a terrible time getting activated.  I've had them do an activation refresh five times now.  At least I found out how to go online and request reactivation (hopefully I won't need it).

It's rough to get a signal from our living room window; I've moved the antenna around here and there at various angles to get the best possible reception (the menu on the radio takes me to a setting that tells how much reception I'm getting).  They've told me every time I called to wait 20 minutes, and then I should be able to get the stations.  So far, no cigar.  They also say that it can sometimes take an hour.  This time I'm waiting an hour, at which time our spicy chicken and rice will be done anyhow.

But I do have hope now.  At least the radio makes noise!

P.S.  Cliff was talking to his brother this morning, and I overheard him saying, "I've got me a laptop now, and I can sit in the living room and look at tractor ads.  I wish you had Internet."

Et oh.

horses, horses, horses

I love to go into the pasture with horses or cattle, lie down on the ground, and watch their reactions.  Even horses that are a little wild usually overcome their fears, because they're so curious at such an unusual sight.

Libby is usually the first one to check things out, but today she wasn't interested.


a light at the end of the (weather) tunnel?

We're in the middle of one of the longest cold spells I can recall in the last few years.  I've been spoiled by a few winters where I never had to go longer than a week without riding my horse; now it's been well over a month.   Last year Cliff and I went to  Olive Garden on the  motorcycle, for Valentine's  Day.   It  ain't gonna happen this year.

I used to spend two hours or more out in this kind of weather milking cows twice a day, every day; these days, I dread taking the dog out to potty when it's in the teens or below... and it doesn't take her very long to potty.  I've gotten soft.

The forecast for this weekend sounds as though the weather could, once again, get nasty.  Although, typical of weather-guessers, they say it could go either way.  There is the possibility of freezing rain; the possibility of considerable accumulation of snow.  Or not.

The good news is that I happened to glance up at the TV as they were showing the ten-day forecast and saw temperatures in the forties afar off!  Dear Lord, let it be so.

We had one day last week in the forties, and that's when we got rid of most of the snow in the yard and in the pasture where Cliff and I walk.  Only trouble is, most of the slopes back there are shaded; so snow thawed all that day, ran down the paths where we walk, re-froze that night, and turned to ice.  You should see us trying to negotiate around, and to the side of, that mess, going down the hills.

Let's face it, we can't stay in this deep freeze forever.  Somewhere in the future is a month called May.  My cabin awaits, and so does my steed.

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Friday, February 9, 2007

stumped again

We received Cliff's XM radio setup today.  I went online and activated it, then we went to the grocery store.  A local store, by the way, because a fellow blogger suggests we accommodate our home-town businesses.  So of course I didn't find half the items I needed.  But I digress.

We arrived back home to find no action on our XM radio.  Well, that's par for the course.  Thank goodness there's an 800 number.  I called that, and they re-sent the activation, or something like that.  I waited twenty minutes as instructed.  Still no action.

I called the 800 number once more, this time talking to a real person whose phone was cutting out so badly, I couldn't make out a thing he was saying.  I hung up.

After stewing for awhile, I called yet again.  This time I got a lady who spoke nice and loud, thank you very much, and whose phone did not cut out.  The only problem was that she was obviously in India, and her accent made her quite difficult to understand.  She gave me the same instructions I had received before, and once again, I complied.  I am right now waiting for twenty minutes to expire.  Do I expect the radio to work this time?  Nope.

But my daughter is off work tomorrow.  And she's great with tech support people!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Sooo, what else has Cliff been up to today?

It's been only a month ago that I mentioned, in an entry, that I had to take this computer to the shop... and as it turned out, the problem was dust.  OK, so today Cliff was going to the shop for something and I said, "Put some air in your pup, please, and bring it in here.  Let's blow the dust out of my computer."  (I hope you folks know what a pup is... it isn't Sadie.)

It's been only a month, I figured; how much dust could there be?  Well surprise, surprise.  Clouds of dust went flying when the air hit.

Cliff was amazed, and figured there had to be a way to keep some of the dust out of there and still let the computer breathe.

Enter the duct tape and furnace filter.  It isn't on the computer, but on the back of the part of my desk that houses the computer.

He said he'd feel stupid if I blogged about his invention... his "rig"... but he didn't tell me I couldn't.  So I'm doing it now, while he's at work.

I didn't have a chance to make Better Homes and Gardens anyhow, so who cares?

I may have started something

Cliff is still staying in the house most of his day, until time to go to work.  The cold temperatures keep him from any outdoor odd jobs, and he has no projects going in his shop.  Today I was getting ready to mop the hall and kitchen (long overdue), and he headed for his easy chair.

"Hey Cliff," I said, "Would you like to try surfing on the laptop?  Your back always hurts in my computer chair, but you could use the laptop sitting right there."

"Nah," he said.  "I'm afraid I'd mess something up."

"You're no likelier to mess something up on the laptop than you would be on the desktop."

"Well, I guess I could try it."

I believe we've found Cliff's way to surf:  He was on the Internet for three hours, until it was time for him to get ready to go to work.

Thanks to our daughter Rachel, who spent hours on the phone in order to get our wireless router working.

Added later:  Cliff read this and said, "I didn't spend 3 hours on the Internet." 
"Cliff," I answered, "You signed on at 11 AM, ate your lunch while surfing, and finally turned off the laptop at 2 because it was time to get ready for work." 

McDonalds and trans-fats

Over on my healthy-living journal, I celebrate the fact that McDonald's is finally getting rid of trans fats in their food. 

Just five grams of trans fats a day can increase the risk of heart disease by 25%, according to a Harvard study.

A reader, Faye, left this comment:  "Does that mean that McDonald's food is no longer taboo?"

Well, no, it doesn't mean that, exactly.  Not if you are counting calories, or worried about proper nutrients.

But at least parents don't have to worry so much about poisoning their children and giving them the chance of future heart disease, when they buy them a happy meal.

Looking back, I believe the main source of trans fats in this household in the past was margarine.  Cheap margarine.  Stick margarine.  And plenty of it.  Nowadays I only buy tub margarine for the table, and butter for cooking (for the times when olive oil won't work).

Oh, the real purpose of this entry?  To get that silly skull in the previous entry off the top of my journal; it was beginning to freak me out!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

So I have 20 more years left?

You Will Die at Age 82
Congratulations! You take good care of yourself.You're poised to live a long, healthy life.

received in e-mail (a little story of Adam and Eve)

God said to Adam:
        "I want you  to do something for me."
        And Adam  replied:
        "Gladly, Lord, what do you want me  to do ???"
        And God said:
    "Go down into that valley."
      And Adam asked:
        "What's a  valley, Lord ???"
        And God explained it to  him.
        Then God said:
    "Cross the river."
        And  Adam asked:
        "What's a river  ???"
        And God also explained that to him, and  then said:
        "Go over to the hill  ..."
        And Adam queried:
      "What is a hill ???"
        And so God  explained to Adam what a hill was.
         God then told Adam:
        "On the other side of  the hill you will find a cave"
        And Adam  said:
        "What's a cave  ???"
        So, after God had explained  what a cave was, he said to Adam:
        "In the  cave you will find a woman."
        And Adam  queried:
        "What's a woman ???"
    And so God explained that to him,  too.
        Then, God said:
    "I want you to reproduce."
      And Adam queried:
        "How do I do  that ???"
        So God, first, said (under his  breath):
        "Geez ...!"
      And then, just like everything else, God explained human
 reproduction to Adam, as well !!!
      So, Adam goes down into the valley, across the river, and over
 the hill, into the cave, and finds the woman.
      Then, after about five minutes, he was  back.
        Now God, his patience wearing  very thin, asked angrily:
        "What is it now  ???"
        And Adam asked
        "What's a  headache ???"

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Monday Photo Shoot

From John Scalzi:

"YourMonday Photo Shoot: Get a really really really close shot of someone's eyes. Try not to use the flash. Or, you know, poke them with the camera. Some judicious cropping will do the job too."

Here you have it:  my dog, Sadie's, eyes.  I confess, I used the flash the first time.

Later, I got her without the flash:

Then, since I was outside with the horses today, I decided to add my filly's eyes to this entry.  Libby has very kind eyes.

Time to raise that camera and go eye-to-eye with your subject. Snap the picture, post it up on your blog or journal, and then go to John's blog to leave a link! Let's see some awesome ocularity.

Visit to see our family doctor

This was Cliff's first time to see our family doctor since they sent him on to the heart specialist in April.  The heart doctor had sent all the information ahead of us, so the doctor was well-informed.  Cliff is on Lipitor, which can be hard on the liver; so he will have to have blood work done periodically.

There are two doctors in this practice.  I normally ask for Dr. G.  He has such wonderful "bedside manner".  (He's the one I featured stitching up my leg last April.)  But I specifically asked that Cliff see Dr. D.  Why?  Because Dr. D had a heart attack several years ago, at the young age of 40.  I figure a guy who has had heart trouble is going to be more diligent monitoring a heart patient.  Silly, I know.  But I will tell you that he took plenty of time with Cliff, and told us how low he wants to get his cholesterol... total, HDL, and LDL.  He is on the same dose of Lipitor as Cliff, and told him, "You are to take this the rest of your life, just like I plan to do."

My poor doctors are always somewhat taken aback when they see my camera.  I promise them I won't use my photos in a lawsuit against them, and I won't use their names in my journal.

Funny thing, when we sat down by Barbara in the waiting room, Cliff asked her, "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, for a follow-up," she answered.

Later when we were alone, I told Cliff, "Never ask someone that question; they might have a condition you don't want to hear about."

"Oh," he said.  "I never thought about that; I just thought maybe she was sick."

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Sunday, February 4, 2007


I usually watch the Superbowl off-and-on, just in case something spectacular happens.  And I like the commercials.

I'm no football fan, so I don't know a thing about the players on either team. 

But there's a thing I don't understand, and Cliff can't help me out here.  Maybe some of you know more about it than we do.

There's a player whose last name is Muhammad.  Every time his name is mentioned by the announcer, the crowd boos loudly.

I wonder if this man has done or said something to deserve being booed, or if it's just his name and religion that people don't like. 

If it's the latter, it's just wrong that the crowd boos him.  This country was founded on freedom of religion.

Please somebody, enlighten me if you can.

Thanks to Robin and her hubby (see the comment below), I now know they weren't booing at the guy.  I'm relieved!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

XM radio is purchased

My son called and helped me out with the XM radio for Cliff.  In fact, he got on Ebay while we were on the phone and found everything we need to set Cliff up with music in his shop, and I bought it.  Jim thought we'd probably need the antenna, since the shop roof is metal.  And that's included.  The boombox is also part of the package deal, so there should be enough volume for a hard-of-hearing guy.  And Jim says when he comes to visit, he'll set us up so we can get XM in the car, with the same receiver.   Cliff will be listening, I imagine, to "Willie's  Place" and  "Classic  Country".

Cliff has spent the afternoon in the shop with our grandson, Arick, who came out to change the spark plugs in his pickup.  It was going to cost $185 for him to have somebody else do it.  Once he and Cliff got in there, they realized why it cost so much.  Cliff said it was almost impossible to get to those plugs.  Arick was doing the work with Cliff supervising, until he suddenly got hit with an unbearable earache (he's had an awful cold and sore throat), and came groaning into the house to wait for his girl friend to come and take him to the emergency room.  So Cliff ended up taking over the spark-plug-changing job.

He's inside now, though.  He decided to do that last pesky plug tomorrow when he's fresh.  He said his chest is sore from leaning over inside that pickup.

Just a note:  If you are looking for a good digital camera, the price on one better than my Canon SD 400 has come down a lot.  It's the SD600, for a little over $200 at Circuit City or

I take all my still photos and videos with my camera, and absolutely love it.  It's so tiny, it fits in a pocket so I can keep it handy.

Friday, February 2, 2007

speaking of radios....

Cliff doesn't hear well.  In fact, his left ear is totally useless.  But he loves music.  Country music.

Not today's country music, however.

In normal times (when the temperature is above 20 degrees), he is in his shop for several hours a day.  The radio he has out there is a cheap one with poor reception; and anyhow, there aren't any stations that play the kind of music he loves.

I think he needs a (cheapest model) Bose.

And I think he needs XM radio.

He deserves it.  Only thing is, I'm not sure how to set the whole thing up.  I'm counting on our son being here this summer.  He'll tell us what to do.

Right, Jim?

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One more time, laugh and cry with me (thank you, Chonda Pierce)

You need DSL or cable to watch this youtube selection:

Conversation with my granddaughters

Monica:  "Grandma, can I have a sheet of printer paper?  I want to draw."

Me:  "If there is any, you can.  OK, there's some here.  My printer doesn't work, so who cares; use it all.  When we get our income tax refund, I'm getting me a new printer-scanner."

Monica:  "How much are you getting back?"

Me:  "$2,400"

Natalie:  "Can I have some of it?"

Monica:  "Will you buy me something?"

Me:  "Most of it's going into savings for our vacation next summer.  Are your parents getting a nice refund back?"

Monica:  "I don't know, I'm not in charge of our finances."  (she's 11 years old, by the way)

Me:  "Oh."

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!  You go, Monica.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Too much time on my hands?

My buddy, Celeste, commented on my last post, "We have too much time on our hands."

Hey, it goes with being house-bound!  I suppose if it weren't for the Internet during the day and TV in the evenings, I'd  be reading a good book on these long winter days.  But most books pale in comparison to what I've been reading online.  And I still have ten years of "Law and Order" to catch up on, on TV.

Cliff is as yet without a project, and today I made the ultimate sacrifice for him:  "Would you like to surf?"  I asked him.

"Yeah, I think I would."  He sounded a little surprised.

And I did the unthinkable.  I handed over the keyboard to my loving husband and retreated to the table to work on the crossword puzzle in today's paper.

Of course, I did know that he's never been able to sit in this chair for more than an hour before his back starts hurting.

Still, I think I did my good deed for the day.

And what did he do online?  He went to Yesterday's Tractors and browsed tractor ads.  The whole time.  Geesh.

A heartwarming and humerous read

Having stepped over the threshold into that bigger-than-huge world of non-AOL blogs, I'm finding some pure gold.  There's a contest over there, you see, where people nominate their favorite individual post for "Perfect Post of the Month".

Now, I don't play their little games by either nominating someone, or voting for my choice.  But I do benefit from the whole shebang, because by reading what people think is the "best post" they've read that month, I'm finding pure gold.

Just as an example, here's a woman's tribute to an old lady who used to be her neighbor.  Meet Tillie, God rest her soul.  You'll laugh and cry, and you'll love Tillie too.  She might even remind you of someone you know.